Miller Town & Country Estate Agents, Tavistock and

Decorations are down, there’s the shocking sight of Easter eggs on the supermarket shelves and you have all those good intentions to keep your resolutions. Last year brought many highs and lows as well as a wealth of predictions on what the future holds. Yet amidst all the forecasts,

Decorations are down, there’s the shocking sight of Easter eggs on the supermarket shelves and you have all those good intentions to keep your resolutions. Last year brought many highs and lows as well as a wealth of predictions on what the future holds. Yet amidst all the forecasts, there are signs that things could be a bit brighter for the property market in 2023 than expected.

Rightmove data

Rightmove’s House Price Index in December stated that 2022 ended with new seller asking prices 5.6% higher than a year ago, and the number of views of homes for sale was up 11% compared with this time last year. There was a suspicion that the normal surge of properties on Boxing Day may not be as record breaking as in previous years. Yet December 26th 2022 saw the highest number of new properties put up for sale than has ever been recorded on any Boxing Day. This was up by a staggering 46% compared with the same day the previous year.

So even with the all the uncertainty around, people still seem ready to invest in a move. This was confirmed by the increase in the number of people contacting estate agents between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. According to Rightmove, this was the highest recorded number in a week since early September (ahead of the ill-fated mini-budget), valuation requests too, were up on 2022 by 29%.

Rightmove’s property expert, Tim Bannister, said: “Boxing Day is traditionally the start of activity ramping up into January and the spring selling season after Christmas, as people return to their search or consider a new year move. We’ve seen some promising activity and familiar patterns over the festive period this year, which are good signs for the year ahead.

While we expect a calmer market this year than we’ve had since the pandemic started, the record number of sellers who chose to come to market this Boxing Day indicates there is a group of motivated sellers ready to move, who perhaps held back and now feel more confident.

After such frenetic market conditions over the last few years, this year’s calmer market will better suit measured movers who prefer to take their time to find the right property. The jump in number of views of properties for sale pre- and post-Christmas is another good sign that the new choice available is getting a lot of attention from future buyers.

After a pause for the festivities, those wanting to buy this year will be ready to get back to their plans and assess where they’d like to live and what they can afford. Those sellers who got a head start and have their home already up for sale will now be benefiting from the jump in viewings over the next few weeks, as people settle back into their usual routines.”

From conversations our team at Miller Town & Country have had recently with buyers and sellers in West Devon we sense that there is still an air of caution and predict therefore that the market will be slower than we have seen over the past year, but we anticipate that it will be solid with opportunities for both buyers and sellers.

Mortgage rates

What a year it has been for homeowners with existing mortgages, or for those trying to get approved for a new mortgage with the base rate rising from 0.25% in January 2022 to 3.5% in the space of just twelve months. And while there don’t seem to be many reasons to be joyful about mortgage rates this year, mortgage rates are stabilizing, and cheaper mortgages will help avoid forced sales from mortgage defaults and, as a result, aid the housing market according to Nationwide.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, stated: “With the chaotic backdrop and elevated mortgage rates in recent months, it wouldn’t be surprising if potential buyers have opted to wait until the New Year to see how mortgage rates evolve before deciding to step into the market. Longer-term interest rates, which underpin mortgage pricing, have returned towards the levels prevailing before the mini-Budget.

“If sustained, this should feed through to mortgage rates and help improve the affordability position for potential buyers, as will solid rates of income growth (with wage growth currently running at a c.7% pace in the private sector), especially if combined with weak or negative house price growth. But the main factor that would help achieve a relatively soft landing (especially for house prices) is if forced selling can be avoided, and there are good reasons to be optimistic on that front.”

In addition, in a shift from fixed to variable interest rate mortgages, Halifax on 3 January relaunched their mortgage tracker product for the first time in four years. This continues what we have been seeing over recent months with lenders reducing their tracker interest rates at a faster pace than those for fixed mortgages. Last month also saw NatWest introduce two new 95 per cent loan-to-value products of equivalent value, another signal of confidence returning to the mortgage marketplace.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or looking to re-mortgage this year, we would highly recommend you seek the assistance of an experienced mortgage broker to help you navigate the mortgage market and determine the optimal finance product for you.

Local trends

National and local trends can vary in the property market, discussing your needs with a local estate agent will ensure you have a full understanding of property market here in Okehampton and Tavistock and how your home is expected to perform. If you’re looking to move in 2023, maybe things could be a bit brighter than you originally thought. Come and chat to our team here at Miller Town & Country over a cuppa and a chocolatey biscuit to hear the latest insights from the West Country Property People.